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CPE Limits Tuition Increases To 3 To 5 Percent For State’s Colleges And Universities

The Council on Postsecondary Education set 2017-18 tuition and mandatory fee ceilings for resident undergraduate students at its meeting Friday at Northern Kentucky University.

The ceilings limit tuition and mandatory fee increases to 3 to 5 percent and include:

  • 3 percent for Western Kentucky University
  • 4 percent for the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University
  • 5 percent for Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University and Murray State University.

The ceiling for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System was set at $6 per credit hour, a 3.9 percent increase.

A ceiling was not set for the University of Louisville since the university’s board of trustees has already voted not to increase tuition next year.

The new tuition dollars will partially offset inflationary fixed costs, manage growth in employer-paid retirement contributions, and support continuing progress to produce a more highly skilled and productive workforce, create new jobs and grow Kentucky’s economy through higher levels of educational attainment.

“Setting tuition ceilings is not something we take lightly,” said Council President Bob King. “After a very thorough process, we believe these rates strike the right balance between keeping costs affordable for students and their families, while providing adequate funding for our campuses to address fixed and unavoidable budget challenges.”

Even with the additional tuition revenue, campuses will face an $11.5 million shortfall for the 2017-18 year.

The different ceilings for campuses reflect in part the equity adjustments of $2.5 million for Western Kentucky University and $5.1 million for Northern Kentucky University. These funds were provided in the current biennial budget. A condition of the agreement was that both campuses would set lower tuition increases.

Another factor considered in setting the tuition ceilings was the expectation that employer-paid contributions in the Kentucky Employment Retirement System (KERS) will continue to increase at an accelerated rate. Between 2011-12 and 2016-17, the mandated increases in campus contributions grew from $30.2 million to $72 million, or 138 percent.

Only two campuses, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, do not have employees who participate in KERS.

Council staff stressed the importance of considering the net price of going to college as opposed to the published “sticker price.” The net price is the total cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, textbooks, and room and board costs, minus student financial aid from federal, state or local and institutional sources.

In Kentucky, very few students pay the stated sticker price because of liberal amounts of grant and scholarship aid provided by the state and postsecondary institutions. For example, even though annual resident undergraduate tuition and fees at Kentucky comprehensive universities increased by $1,191 between academic years 2011-12 and 2015-16, the average net price that students paid actually decreased by $186 during this period.

The tuition action also allows campuses to submit market competitive tuition and fee rates for graduate, professional and online courses.

Council action on campus tuition and fee proposals is set for the June 16 meeting at Spalding University.

In other action, the Council:

  • Extended President Bob King’s contract two years.
  • Approved a KCTCS request for six new capital projects funded with a combination of Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative funds ($30.5 million), private funds ($5.3 million) and agency restricted funds ($2.9 million).
  • Approved three academic programs: Master of Science in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, Morehead State University; Ph.D. in Radiation and Radiological Sciences, University of Kentucky; and Specialist in Gifted and Talented Education, Western Kentucky University.
  • Awarded resolutions of appreciation for distinguished service for outgoing members Pam Miller, Glenn Denton and Dan Flanagan.
  • Chair Sherrill Zimmerman appointed Donna Moore, Joe Ellis and Ron Beal to the Council’s Executive Committee. Zimmerman and Vice Chair Ben Brandstetter also serve on this committee.
  • Zimmerman appointed Lizbetthe Rodriguez to the Committee on Equal Opportunities.

The Council heard the following reports: CPE President, Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Strategic Agenda Metrics Accountability System Overview, Stronger by Degrees: Update on Opportunity, 2017 Legislative Session Summary and Committee on Equal Opportunities. Reports from the campuses were also available.

Additionally, new member Shawn Reynolds of Almo was sworn in at Thursday’s work session. His term expires Dec. 31, 2022.

Meeting materials are available at https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicMeetingMaterials.aspx?ak=1001061&mk=50220579.

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